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Could Charlie Strong and Texas change football for the better?

Many of you are probably aware that I have been very critical of the game of football and the type of people/athletes that the game attracts. I’ve been pretty subtle about it, but yeah, it’s there.

I’ve never denied the possibility that football can be a game that encourages discipline, hard work and structure while being an enjoyable event. The problem is that it can be either that or a game of chaos and extreme brutality that encourages barbarism on and off the field, and recent years has shown much more of the latter occurring. Critics of mine can point out that bad eggs are present in all sports and walks of life, but that still can’t erase the fact that such individuals are coming out of the game of football much more frequently and with little to no outrage about it from the public.

But maybe, just maybe, that attitude could be on the verge of changing.

If there is a silver lining in seeing the horrific abuse that Ray Rice laid on Janay Palmer, it’s that it might have snapped enough people out of their state of denial and realized that abusive violence committed by football players (and yes, on a smaller scale, athletes in general) is a serious problem that not enough has been done about. Numerous other sports leagues like the NHL have cracked down on such actions, and done so without bungling it like Roger Goodell did with Rice.

But if there’s one event that might be a true sign of that, it would be standout Maryland high school quarterback Kai Locksley flipping his commitment at near the last moment and deciding to go to the University of Texas instead of Florida State.

The knock on Charlie Strong when Texas hired him was that he was too old-fashioned and hard. His tough, discipline-driven style could never win over kids in a world were recruits can get helicopter rides to campus from recruiters – add that to the list of complaints the spoiled boosters of the Whiny Orange have with Strong.

Well, so much for that theory. Texas signed a top 10 recruiting class last week, highlighted by linebackers Mailk Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler as well as the number one tight end according to ESPN, Devonaire Clarington.

But Locksley was the one Texas fans have to be jumping for joy over, seeing him as the solution the Horns need at quarterback after enduing the past season with Tyrone Swoopes. But it’s not just the fact that Strong landed this particular kid but where he poached him from where the change in football’s culture may lie.

I remember one of my Twitter followers saying that Strong’s best weapon in recruiting is “you win over the parent, you win the kid.” I think it’s safe to suggest that this was the case with Locksley, with Strong convincing his parents that Texas would be a much better place for their kid.

You can’t tell me that the horror stories coming out of Florida State, where not only was Jameis Winston accused of rape and stealing crab legs, but there has been a laundry list of incidents where FSU players committed heinous acts and the Tallahassee police simply looked the other way, started drawing concerns from the parents of talented but impressionable high school athletes.

Would you want to send your kid to an atmosphere like that?

It looks like Locksley’s parents did not. And when Strong came knocking on their door to offer a much different environment, the choice became obvious.

Texas was right there with Florida State for years, especially in the final years of Mack Brown’s term as coach. Players making headlines for the wrong reasons in the weeks leading up to bowl season were too common an occurrence for the program. Brown had always been known as someone who would coddle his players, but it was clear by the end that the inmates were running the asylum.

But things appear to be changing in Austin, with not just the new coach but a new athletics director and a new president on the way. If Steve Patterson will back his football coach and start telling the likes of Red McCombs to stay out of their business, the change could be complete.

It’s a new culture the Orangebloods should embrace. Brown’s practice of spoiling his players had to be a factor in his teams always underperforming for the talent they had. By contrast, Gary Patterson has built a tough winning program against the odds through strong discipline while still having the backs of his players. If Texas infuses that type of atmosphere in addition to the talent they can draw on the name alone, they could be the greatest force in college football.

There is how football could be used to make boys into better men – using the games intensity to focus them and learn the lessons of structure and boundaries, both on and off the field. It’s a practice that has been slipping away over the years in favor of a culture of chaos and unbridled brutality, and the results have been way too many stories on SportsCenter involving police reports.

Football needs such a shot in the arm, because with more and more stories like Rice and Winston and Aaron Hernandez along with a growing concern regarding concussions, more and more parents are showing concern over whether their kids should play that sport when there are plenty of other athletic options available. It’s a bigger problem than a lot of die-hard fans like Daniel Flynn want to admit, and something has to change if you want your beloved sport to endure.

Is it too soon to say things are definitely going to turn around? Perhaps.

But if the viewing public never forgets the horrors committed by people like Ray Race and are willing to embrace more people like Charlie Strong, maybe even this cranky, snarky sports fan and writer will find little to complain about regarding the game.

Rangers Shouldn’t Need the Russell Wilson Sideshow

Marc McLemore surely did not mind when the Rangers gave the No. 3 he had worn for years with the club to Alex Rodriguez, given what was expected of A-Rod when he came to Texas in 2001.

But you have to wonder what he feels of the person currently wearing that number in Surprise, AZ, right now.

The Rangers Spring Training facilities have suddenly become home to a media circus, with reporters from ESPN and the MLB Network and thousands of new fans in droves. But are they there to see the Rangers’ new acquisitions, or even the international star that is Yu Darvish?

No. All they care about is someone who’s chances of playing at Globe Life Park are beyond nil – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who the Rangers acquired in the Rule 5 Draft last December.

The throngs in Surprise Stadium with footballs, not baseballs, to sign, made it clear they didn’t give a crap about the actual baseball players. One even showed up with a sign reading, “Sorry Rangers’ Fans, We’re Here For Wilson.”

“Hopefully, the Dallas fans won’t get too mad,” Wilson told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.

Consider this one Rangers fan more than a bit perturbed.

This is not what should be getting the Rangers a front-fold sports story in The Nation’s News.

Instead of focusing on whether Prince Felder will turn his career around now that he’s in new territory or whether Shin Soo Choo will live up to expectations, this Rangers’ preseason has been overtaken with the question of whether the current NFL champion will become the next Bo Jackson.

Really? Does anyone really think that’s going to happen? Forget whether someone who so far has a .229 average in two years at the lowest level has a snowball’s chance in You-Know-Where of making a team with an infield of Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar – do you really think the Seahawks will allow their golden QB to take the field in another sport?

And there are definitely some within the baseball ranks not happy with Wilson taking up a Spring Training spot, like Giants pitching prospect Andrew Carignan, who Tweeted, “Hey, .230 hitters in A Ball, you want to go to a big league camp? Win a Super Bowl.”

The more I look at this, the more I get a bad gut feeling this has Ray Davis and Bob Simpson written all over it and that now that a certain strikeout king is no longer in North Texas, they feel free to churn out any sideshow-like activity that will draw the fringe media out there rather than actually let the club focus on the game itself.

General manager Jon Daniels is doing nothing to diffuse this situation, saying things like, “If we can just get Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake out here, we can take it to another level.”

Why? Why does a team that was in the freaking World Series less than three years ago and supposedly won this past off-season (which quite a few people seem to take stock in) need to send a sideshow from another sport in order to garner attention?

It seems the only one who is currently maintaining any sanity is Ron Washington, who has refused to allow Wilson to play the field or take batting practice.

Wash should get another year on his contract just for that decision alone.

He used the politically correct response of “Man, I can’t just do that. We wouldn’t be able to sleep the night on the half-percent chance that something would happen.”

I can’t help but wonder what the people in Seattle think of this. You would think they would be in an uproar that their meal ticket to football dynasty is even considering playing another sport. If so, it may be the first time Seattle fans and I ever agreed on anything. (Well, that and the fact that they got screwed out of their basketball team, but that’s another story.)

And before you accuse me of just being a whiner because of my well-known dislike of American football, let me ask this: What would you think if LeBron James showed up at Cowboys training camp in pads?

Do you think the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Dodgers would allow a sideshow like this to take over their preseason? This sadly goes to show once more, how little the Rangers are respected as an Organization and the lengths they must go to in order to garner attention.

That attention will all go away in a week or two when Wash is able to put that red card in Wilson’s locker (Do they still do that like they did in Major League?) signaling has being cut from Spring Training.

The good news: The real baseball players can get back to preparing for their season.

Gary Patterson Represents the Good in College Football

Randy Galloway doesn’t call them “The Whiny Orange” for nothing.

Within days of the University of Texas announcing Charlie Strong as its new football coach, the high-dollar boosters began moping that their Brinks trucks of orange money could not lure the likes of Nick Saban, Art Briles or Jon Gruden to Austin, led by Red McCombs going on San Antonio radio and coming off like the ultimate racist hick upset that a black man will lead his team for the first time ever.

I have heard from people with connections to the UT athletic department that essentially, people like McCombs are the reason no high-profile coach will come to UT. Sure, there are boosters like that at every major school, but UT’s base may be the absolute worst at having their claws sink into the department – unless people like Strong and new AD Steve Patterson can wrench them out.

Time for the Orangebloods to come down to earth: Texas is not THAT much better of a job than Alabama, a program that won six national championships before you won your first, And Briles? If you CAN beat them, don’t join them. And Gruden has such a cushy job with MNF that he should never coach again.

None of those coaches were going anywhere. But it’s amazing that one other coach was not in the running – unless it’s already accepted that he’s never going anywhere else. And that is among the reasons why that coach is one even I can salute.

People want me to say something good related to football? Here you go. With accused rapists leading their teams to national championships and programs getting slaps on the wrist for violations worse than what SMU did in the 80s, one shining beacon of hope has been the man running the show over in Fort Worth.

Who would have thought that Gary Patterson would still be the coach at TCU today? When Patterson took over for the departing Dennis Franchione in 2000, many thought that, at best, he could maintain what had been going for three years and then bolt for greener pastures like his predecessor.

Instead, what we have seen is nearly a decade and a half of Patterson running The Little Program That Could, causing fits to the big boys and the national sports pundits who kiss those schools’ butts. And his program is dang proud of it.

He wouldn’t stand for his team being disrespected for playing the “little sisters of the poor,” but he ultimately let his players answer that by beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and earning the program’s highest raking ever. He wouldn’t let the school’s constant shifting from conference to conference affect his program, which has consistently won from the WAC to Conference USA to the Mountain West.

What’s more, Patterson has proved that his program will be run with integrity. In the Frogs’ first ever Big 12 season, he did not hesitate to suspend his starting quarterback for drug use. Let’s see him do that, even for a greater offense, at UT or, say Florida State, and survive.

That brings us to another group of people that deserve some credit: The TCU boosters. They keep ponying up the cash to keep Patterson at their school, but they don’t meddle. They trust that he’s doing the right thing. And that’s why Patterson should get the time he needs to build the program to the level where it can compete with Texas and Oklahoma consistently. Hey, if Baylor found a way to do it…

He might have gotten more money going somewhere else. But by staying at TCU, he has achieved something more valuable: The status of a legend.

Maybe I’m naive, but it’s starting to look like the attitudes of college coaches may be changing. The practice of breaking contracts to get more money at a “high-level” program may not be happening as often as people think. Why take a few million more for the headaches of unrealistic expectations if you can still get a good salary AND the chance to do something really special where you are?

And if that mindset is beginning to take hold, a lot of credit should go to Gary Patterson, whether he meant to or not, for making it popular.

Aledo May Not Be Bullies, But UIL Still Needs to Address Things

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Figured the time would come when I’d have to talk about this sport.

The phenomenon that is high school football in Texas has now exploded into national headlines following one of the most lopsided games in history, when Aledo High beat Fort Worth Western Hills 91-0. It wasn’t the score itself that drew the attention; it was one parent going so far as to file an accusation of “bullying” on Aledo’s team for what they did.

Bullying? Yeah, that is probably taking it to an extreme. And it once again has led to the same wave of people doing their own whining about the “wussification” of America.

But there is a deeper issue here that may be being overlooked by those rolling their eyes at one whining parent. And amazingly, it was a caller to one of Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket’s shows that addressed it.

That issue is that it makes no sense for Aledo to be in Class 4A (the second level of Texas high school athletics) and in District 7 with mostly Fort Worth ISD schools.

Aledo clearly has 5A-level talent, regularly sending players off to college like Jonathan Gray, now carrying the ball for the Texas Longhorns.  FWISD schools, meanwhile, are stretched so thin on athletes that many of their football teams have to play two ways out of necessity.

And yes, I can personally vouch for this. Back when I was broadcasting high school games while in college, there was one game with Arlington High facing off against Paschal (which was amazingly at the 5A level). Looking over at the Paschal sideline and seeing so few players there while the teams were on the field, my partners and I couldn’t help but reference the 1990s movie Necessary Roughness.

The numbers about how unfairly better Aledo is against its competition speak for themselves. The Western Hills game was just the most extreme example. With a schedule against no schools above the 4A level and one 3A school (according to Press Box Services), Aledo has yet to score fewer than 44 points in a game or allow more than 16. The average score of their district games this year has had them winning 84-7.

That doesn’t mean those players should be ashamed of putting up scores like that. Nor does it justify anyone going so far as to file a complaint that the school now must investigate by state law.

But neither does it mean the Western Hills players deserve to be struck back by elitist sports writers and personalities (many of whom probably didn’t even play anything past the junior high level) saying, “Hey you guys need to just accept the fact that you’re a bunch of pathetic losers who don’t deserve to ever set foot on a football field ever again.” Especially when it wasn’t the players who filed this claim. THAT could be a greater claim of bullying.

Who knows what will eventually come from this case. But if there is hope, it will be the realization that the UIL, the University of Texas-based governing body of Texas high school sports, needs to make serious changes to its alignment policies.

It’s dumb enough that the UIL for some reason has to re-structure the districts every two years, meaning Arlington high schools are now playing against the likes of Weatherford instead of Grand Prairie or Mansfield. But clearly student enrollment is not a good enough barometer for deciding what class level a school should be in.

No, you can’t fault the Aledo players for continuing to play hard in a game. But they should be doing it against 5A schools because that’s clearly where their talent level is at. Right now, them being at 4A is like the University of Kentucky basketball team playing at the Division II or III level.

This is more than just the issue of the remaining schools in District 7 and the rest of Class 4A not having a fair chance against a grossly superior program. There is the risk of damaging the Aledo players by giving them a false sense of confidence and the belief that everything is going to come easy for them because they are not being tested. It would be a whole lot different if they were up against the likes of Euless Trinity or Southlake Carroll.

Yes, an accusation of “bullying” because of a high school football game may be too much. But it doesn’t

Cowboys Should Raze the Roof Instead of Rangers Raising It

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I get a lot of criticism for claiming the Rangers aren’t appreciated in North Texas despite their recent success. And yes, if you base it on the attendance figures of the last two to three years, that criticism of my words is valid.

Like I said earlier, my beef primarily lies in television ratings and the like, but I will not deny the bottom line of winning has made a positive impact on their gate receipts.

Amazing, however that drawing that many in the last few years has done nothing to quell one of the biggest complaints about the team.

How can we praise our attendance figures and then claim that our Ballpark is hurting our chance at great attendance figures – to say nothing of the performance on the field?

I’m talking, of course, about the claim of how no one wants to go to the Ballpark because they can’t take the heat.

Despite all the good times the last few years in Arlington – and yes, these times ARE good – the complaints remain about the Rangers playing in an open-air outdoor ballpark in an area where in the summer double digit temperatures mean a cool front. There continue to be calls – mostly from the media, I will admit – for this franchise to start putting that Ray Davis and Bob Simpson money into building a roof over the Ballpark so the fans – and maybe the players – no longer have to suffer under Mother Nature’s wrath.

Does everyone really not see how ludicrous this sounds when you really think about it? Are we actually complaining that the Rangers, who play a game designed to be played on grass and dirt, actually have it be played OUTOORS??

Well, that’s because the Rangers can’t win constantly playing in the heat. It always wears them down and they are guaranteed to falter in the late months every single year. Unless you give them the comfort of playing indoors, they have no chance of going deep in October and reaching the World Series.

Except they did. Twice.

And that little bit about them not being able to pitch in the heat? The team ERA in each of the last four years: 3.93 (4th), 3.79 (5th), 3.99 (7th) and 3.62 (4th). Four straight years with a pitching staff in the top half of the American League – three of them in the top third.

Meanwhile, those same people who complain about Rangers Ballpark continue to gush and wax poetic on the Boss Hogg Bowl next door (I think it got a new name, sounds like some phone company, ah who cares) and how its enclosed roof and climate control are perfect for how all sports should be played in the 21st century.

(Yeah, can we stop calling it a retractable roof stadium yet? I’m more likely to get a date before the next time Jerry opens that roof, and I’ve already confined myself to dying alone.)

In other words, just another example of how the Cows do everything right and the Rangers CAN’T do anything right.

One problem, though. While the Rangers, with that horrible outdoor ballpark, have become one of the best teams in baseball on the field and at the gate, the Cows… well, the Cows suck, there’s no way around that.

Oh, the Cows still sell out games despite being one of the most unsuccessful teams for the past 17 years, and that has stuck in my craw for a long time. But now that I’ve thought of it more, why should it? The place may be selling out, but it’s not selling out with Cow fans.

Ask anyone who was at last Sunday’s game and they will likely mope about how many Bronco fans infested the home of “America’s Team” – just like the Bears and Steelers did last year. This actually makes a lot of sense. With five-figure seat licenses and 70 dollar parking, Jerry has made it impossible for most Cow fans to regularly come to his disguised country club. So while his teams fans are stuck watching on the screens at Hooters, visiting team fans will gladly use their saved vacation money to mark one more stadium off their tour list and see the pompous Cowboys get beat by their team.

Instead of trying to go on about why the Rangers need a roof, how about answering the question of why the COWBOYS need one?

Why does a team that plays in a region where the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees before December and rarely below 50 before the new year have to play in enclosed climate control?

If anything, playing indoors could very well be a factor to the Cows’ failures – all that pampered comfort only produces a soft team that can’t handle the harsh elements in New York or Philadelphia come December.

Oh, sure, that theory has to be preposterous. Except that sonce the Cows last saw aSuper Bowl, 14 of the last 17 Super Bowl champions played home games outdoors. And 13 of them were in cold weather cities.

Heck, try telling a Packers fan in Green Bay that Lambeau Field needs a roof on it. They might give you a five minute head start to get out of town before the pitchfork crowd comes chasing (People in Wisconsin are nice like that).

So let’s recap: Since 2009 when JerryWorld opened, the Cows, with their luxurious, comfortable, climate controlled atmosphere, have a winning percentage 0f 50 percent, have won one playoff game and are only selling out because they don’t pull a San Antonio Spurs and deny ticket sales to anyone north of the Red River. The Rangers, meanwhile, playing outdoors in the unbearable “blast furnace” of the Texas summer heat, have four straight 90-win seasons with two trips to the World Series and have not only somehow become one of the top draws in baseball but have crowds that are actually supporting the home team.

Maybe instead Jerry should take a wrecking ball to his roof so his players – and fans in the stands – can get tougher.

But hey, maybe I’m comparing apples and oranges here in using Rangers vs. Cowboys in the indoors vs. outdoors debate. Maybe I should find an actual baseball team that plays in doors to compare the Rangers to… like the Houston Astros…

Fixing Football

Well, I’m sure you all know my stance on football. If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out in detail here.

However, I am not the type who just up and declares why something is rotten and just leaves it at that. I am actually willing to give my take on what can be done to fix the problem.

I am not so blind as to not consider the possibility that something like American football could be a safer, more civilized game not infested with abusive monsters. Therein perhaps lies the biggest issue I have: The fact that there are almost no people, at least among the fans and media who see that there are serious problems in their game that need to be dealt with.

This is why I admire someone like Jason Whitlock. The former Kansas City Star and Fox Sports writer, about to begin his second stint at ESPN, isn’t afraid to point out the massive problems of thug-like attitudes in the game of football. Whitlock says the hip-hop culture invading the game is to blame, and has received massive flak from fellow African-Americans for doing so.

While Whitlock makes good arguments there, I can’t help but think other factors are at work as well – mainly, SportsCenter and the Madden video game series. These have greatly glamorized the most violent aspects of the game and thus encouraged more players to be that overly vicious type. Now, I would never say the solution is to eliminate highlight reels or video game; the real issue comes from parents and coaches not drilling this attitude out of their kids.

Which brings me to this list. Back when Richie Whitt was on the air waves, he decided to make a list of things he though soccer needed to do to improve the most popular game in the entire world. Some had validity to me (like keeping time on the scoreboard) while others not so much (One point for a shot and three for a goal? You want to turn soccer into horseshoes?). So I feel I have the right to present my own list of what the most popular game in America needs to do to fix its problems. Some of these are to clean up other issues not relating to the problems of violence and abusive behavior, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon.

1. Start the clock up sooner. No sport wastes time like American football, especially the NFL – though admittedly the NBA is getting close. Do we really need to drag an hour of game time to nearly four times that in real time? There is just too much time when the clock isn’t running, and there’s an easy way to remedy that. Any time the officials have to stop the clock, start it back up once they spot the ball. Why exactly does the clock have to remain stopped from the time a pass hits the ground until the moment they snap the ball again? Heck the only reason the clock stops on an incomplete pass at all is because 100 years ago they had to wait for the lone old guy they had for an official to reclaim the only ball they had. (Yes, I actually did some research on the history of the game.) Totally outdated. Let’s get the game moving.

Of course, every time an organization has tried that, they caved in to pressure. The NCAA tried a similar rule a few years back and dropped it after one year because people like Mike Leach complained that they were unable to run as many plays per game. Wasn’t that kind of the point?

2. Punish for going out of bounds. Outside of the violence aspect, this might be the most frustrating thing about the game. Why is American football the only sport in the entire world that rewards you for going out of bounds? Every other sport, you lose the ball altogether for doing that.

Again, easy to fix: If a player steps out of bounds without having been physically forced out by the defense – no gain on the play, loss of down, ball goes back to the original spot. Make the game stay within the boundaries of the field like every other game is.

3. Actual punishments for excessive violence. Now for the big ones. What can be done to get rid of so much abusive play and subsequently abusive people in the game? Can anything be done to eliminate things like another Bountygate scandal? Maybe not completely, but there is definitely something that can hamper it from being effective. And it lies within the rules of the “other” football.

In soccer, disciplinary action is simple: A player gets a “yellow card” warning for a major infraction and a “red card” ejection for a second offense in a game or extremely serious offense. An ejection or too many yellow cards accumulated leads to a suspension. Such a system can be implemented in the American game; An automatic 1-game suspension for a player getting ejected or racking up too many personal foul penalties. I see 50 yards worth of penalties over a season being fair enough for a first suspension with subsequent ones coming every 30 yards.

The fines the NFL levies for excessive hits is chump change to these players. Make it much more likely that such actions will affect the team, things might start changing.

4. If it’s not a tackle, it’s not legal. People overseas like to call our football “a game for gentlemen played by animals” while rugby is vice versa. The logic being that even though football has more rules and protective gear to try and prevent injury, its participants still try to cause such injury – while trying to get on ESPN in the process.

I know I’m not the only one on this issue. I remember a former co-worker, who played the game, watching Super Bowl and complaining, “No one’s tackling. They’re standing around looking for the chance to make the big hit.” I also remember a former coach on a national radio show brushing off the accusations of kickoffs being too dangerous by saying, “The problem isn’t the kickoffs; the problem is that kids today don’t know how to tackle.” So just flat out make anything other than an actual wraparound tackle illegal – which may be what the NFL is gradually doing anyway. Yes, fans will continue to whine that the manliness is being taken out of the game. Their predecessors did the same whining when helmets were mandated because people were actually dying on the field.

There simply should be no reason for anyone to have to try and break a running back’s spine in two with a headfirst spear. If you’re not good enough to stay in front of the guy with the ball so you can get both arms around him and bring him down the right way, maybe that guy deserves to get around you and take it to the end zone.

5. No Felons Allowed. Playing any sport for a living is a privilege. An NFL job is not protected fully by the U.S. Constitution like your citizenship is. There are several jobs out there that pay a lot less where you can get fired for a lot less than being accused of rape of murder. And I don’t care how good a player you are, no one’s that good, someone is out there that can take your place. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t so much better than everyone that he should be excused for multiple rape allegations. It’s being reported that one NFL player, Kerry Rhodes, is being blacklisted under accusations of being gay, but Michael Vick can’t get blacklisted for abusing dogs?

While it looks like the New England Patriots knew about Aaron Hernandez’s past and took a gamble on drafting him out of Florida, at least Robert Kraft said the right thing when they did cut him before he was even arraigned on his murder charges, saying Hernandez putting himself in such a position was enough that they didn’t want him representing them. The NFL would have a much better image as a whole if everyone followed such a policy: You get accused of a felony, you’re out.

Does what I say sound unfair to claim football needs such stricter conduct rules compared to other sports? Maybe. But the inconvenient truth is that football is an extremely violent sport and thus attracts extremely violent people. Every game will unfortunately have people committing deplorable acts; see only Chad Curtis for proof of that. But when you have a “game” that glorifies the act of severely hitting and injuring people, harsher steps must be taken to ensure the participants be civil within the sidelines and even more civil outside them.

Otherwise, certain sports fans and bloggers have the right to be very afraid of a football player getting within 500 yards of his sister.

Confessions of a Football Hater

Well, I guess it’s time for The Big One. The one I’m guessing quite a few of those who have followed this site and/or my Facebook/Twitter accounts have wondering. Since THAT season has started again, there won’t be a better time to answer that question:

Why? Just why do I have such a deep seething hatred for the Dallas Cowboys and in general for the game of American football?

If you think I enjoy constantly spewing such venom at the supposed “sport” that so many here treat as a religion, you’d be wrong. It’s not always fun. But it’s not that avoidable when every time I try to take a step back and tell myself that I should give this game a try, something new comes up or another memory arises to tell me I just can’t.

Is it jealousy when it comes to the Cowboys? I won’t deny that may be part of the reason. But again, we’re talking about a football team whose attitude among its participants and fans is that nothing else has the right to exist, let alone succeed, in North Texas.

I’m not exclusively Rangers. I pay almost no attention to them during the winter, focusing on the UTA Mavericks. And I will occasionally miss a game if I get the time to travel up to Frisco for FC Dallas. But Cowboys fans, for the most part, firmly believe this city must be about all Cowboys 24/7/365, nothing else. This town ain’t big enough for any of the sport.

Before Neftali Feliz struck out A-Rod in 2010, it was pretty much impossible to find anyone claiming they loved the Cowboys and the Rangers. Add the Mavericks in there too prior to 2011. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because I remember all too well. I remember the empty bleachers for years and the constant abuse from Cowboys fans saying Rangers fans didn’t deserve to even call themselves men, let alone Americans.

People would always say, “This is a winners’ town; the Rangers will start drawing when they start winning championships.” But the crowds and TV ratings for the Cowboys games despite them winning absolutely nothing for more than 15 years prove that is the biggest pile of bull honkey. The Rangers have to go to the World Series every single year to draw decent crowds, but the Cows could go winless for 10 straight years and still sell out every single game. If the Cows were playing the Redskins on the same day the Rangers were on the verge of winning the World Series, no one would watch the Rangers game. Dale Hansen once said the Mavericks would be bumped to page two if they won the championship on the same day the Cowboys’ coach quit, and I can’t argue with him.

Of course, this attitude is really just a microcosm of the NFL as a whole, as, despite having the shortest season, the league does everything in its power to make sure it’s the headline story on ESPN every single night, even in June. From stupid scouting combines to mini-camps, the league constantly invades everyone else’s space. And when baseball fans actually ask for baseball talk during baseball season, we’re branded as “baseball bullies.”

The NFL is the real bully. The way they intimidate the media is shameless, from banning TV stations from using their own cameras to making newspaper cameramen wear vests with NFL corporate sponsors on them. And don’t you DARE try to paint football in a negative light. They forced ESPN to cancel Playmakers in 2003, and now they just bullied the World Wide Leader in Sports into pulling out of PBS’ investigation into football concussions. This censorship is ignored by the people because they simply can’t stop tuning in during the fall.

The NFL can get away with absolutely anything and still be a juggernaut. And the horrible thing is: They do. The NFL might as well be called the National Felon League, except the proven track record of abusive, thuggish, criminal activity is not exclusive to professional football players.

I’m not surprised at this; we are talking about a sport where the sole object is to cause as much abusive destruction to the human body as possible. And that’s the only reason why it’s so popular; because we are a society that gets off on death and violence.

“This is why we watch football. Because it is barbaric and terrifying and sick. Because we love good hits and kamikaze safety blitzes and a quarterback sitting on the field after a sack with visions of Tweety Bird dancing in his brain… We don’t watch football for its feats of athletic ballet.”

Those aren’t my words; those come from Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, in a column he wrote for The Daily Beast criticizing the NFL for persecuting the culprits in the Bountygate scandal. “I’m loving it. So are 99 percent of fans, too many of them afraid to admit it now because they don’t want to endorse a game that is inherently sadistic, a particularly egregious political incorrectism.”

There is no doubt in my own mind (these ARE my words) that we will see a player killed on the field within the next few years. And while they won’t admit it, almost everyone watching will consider it the greatest moment in football history.

It’s the same reason violence is more tolerated than sex in movies, a combination of the Puritans that helped found our country combined with the Ancient Roman belief that taking a human life is the world’s greatest accomplishment. Even in our supposedly more enlightened society, football fans put the blinders on and try to believe that those guys aren’t REALLY trying to kill one another on that field. And ignore how may people they are abusing off of it.

I’m not saying every single football player is a rapist and/or a murderer; I can’t prove that. I’m saying there are far too many of them to assume someone who beats people to a bloody pulp for a living can be a good person. And the few there that might be still have no issue playing alongside the monsters that would love to take their wives into an alley and do horrible things to them. What’s worse, it’s almost like the people who watch it love these players BECAUSE they can commit such horrific acts.

When two high school players in Steubenville, OH, were charged with raping a co-ed, national sympathy immediately went to the players and not the victim. National writers and pundits pined about how tragic it was that these kids’ football careers were ruined. Social media overflowed with posts blaming the girl, saying she asked for what she got because she was drinking. And the computer hacker who helped expose the crime faces more jail time than the boys.

Nine years ago, the University of Colorado’s football team was revealed to be regularly offering women for sex services to recruits that led to numerous rape allegations – including one from a woman who was on the team as a kicker. No charges were filed, the coach was suspended only for making disparaging remarks at the female player (he was fired a year later when his team was embarrassed by Texas in the Big 12 title game), and the general attitude from the public was, “Big deal, I bet that happens everywhere.” That’s the sad part: They’re probably right, and the fact that people accept it just makes me want to cry.

In the last year, even before Aaron Hernandez’s notorious case, Josh Brent killed his supposed best friend in a drunk driving collision; not only was he not cut and in fact allowed to be on the sideline for the next game where he was cheered, but teammate Jay Ratliff showed how concerned he was by getting arrested for drunk driving just a couple months later. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murdered his child’s mother and then killed himself. A year earlier, former Cowboy Sam Hurd was arrested for drug trafficking, actually admitting he wanted to be a drug czar more than a football player.

And all this was after the likes of O.J. Simpson, Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis, Leonard Little, Donte Stallworth and the numerous cases of drug use and sexual assault from Cowboys players during their glory years of the 90s.

This might seem like a select few. But I’m betting any legal expert will tell you that when it comes to victim crimes, there are at least five that never even see charges for each one that does.

This is a huge problem in the game of football. And no one wants anything done about it.

In baseball, PED use is looked upon as the worst sin in the world. It’s reached the point were players are finally standing up and demanding the union help the league’s crackdown more, saying they no longer want their reputations in doubt.

There is no such outrage from football players or fans demanding the NFL clean up its image. Ben Roethlisberger can rape multiple women, Aaron Hernandez can help kill a man and hide the body, and Michael Vick can abuse animals, and all of this is brushed off with a cavalier “boys will be boys” attitude.

I have truly had football fans tell me on multiple occasions, “As long as he wins games, I don’t care how many women he rapes.” That alone is enough for me to lose all faith in humanity.

The NFL had the chance to take a first step toward making things better when they struck hard against the New Orleans Saints’ head coach, defensive coordinator and numerous players for putting up bounty rewards for injuring opponents. But an arbitrator – who happened to be Roger Goodell’s predecessor as NFL Commissioner – overturned the player suspensions, ruling they did nothing wrong in assaulting their own peers. All of the implicated persons are drawing a paycheck from an NFL team today.

I’m not saying baseball or any sport I follow is perfect. It was very disturbing to know that the Rangers have had players like Esteban Loaiza and Milton Bradley with histories of assaulting women. When Kenny Rogers struck a cameraman, I knew the Rangers had to get rid of him even though he was the first player other than Nolan Ryan I ever had to go to the Ballpark to see. And I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that Jason Kidd turned his life around after that horrible incident of hitting his wife when he was in Phoenix.

But football’s much worse track record on this speaks for itself. Since the Super Bowl, more than 30 football players have been arrested this year – twice as many as baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis and wrestling combined. If there ever was a culture of decency in American football, it’s long gone.

And no one cares, because the game still gives them what they want: Horrific abusive violence. Cowboys fans don’t care about Dez Bryant going 70 yards for a touchdown; they want to see Sean Lee hit someone so hard he is never able to walk again.

There is no courtesy or humanity in the game at all. No one will even go to the simple trouble of extending a hand and helping up the person they just tackled; it’s always the guy dancing all over the field saying “I KILLED THAT M-Fer!!! YEAH, I KILLED THAT M-Fer!!! I’m a MAN!!!”

Yes, to be a man, you have to kill a man. That’s our culture, especially in the sports we want.

So I guess I’m not a man because I choose to not like a sport inhabited by monsters where, if any one of them got within 500 yards of my sister, I’d likely end up having to go to the police station.

I know how extreme all this sounds. As a pop culture critic, I am currently at odds with a supposed feminist who claims any video game involving the rescue of a female causes victimization of women. I see the similarities in our crusades and am concerned about me being hypocritical.

But Anita Sarkeesian can’t list gamers who try to hurt women because they play such games, and I know of many gamers who want to see more strong female protagonists in games, contrary to her claims. I’ve also given you several instances of football players hurting innocents and no one caring.

No outcries of the promotion of abuse that looks to be clearly rampant in this sport. Nothing but a nonchalant attitude of football fans who think violence is as good as Gordon Gekko thought greed was.

It’s really hard to like a sport that keeps blitzing you with so much to dislike.